A Lakeland retreat at Croft House with Sally’s Cottages

Bloggers ready for a night out at Croft House

At the start of October I spent the weekend in the Cumbria with eight other bloggers. We were invited to stay in Croft House near Loweswater by Sally’s Cottages. Croft House is just one of hundreds of self-catering cottages in the Lake District available to rent through Sally’s Cottages.  Read more

Becoming a work at home mum // A decision

Looking on the bright side - trying to think positively about pelvic organ prolapse

As some of you may know before I had Gabe I was working as a Modern Languages teacher – I taught French and Spanish in secondary schools before we moved back to the north west from Scotland. Had we stayed in Scotland I probably would have gone back to work after my maternity leave finished when Gabe was one. But moving house changed things, and we’re now two years on and I still haven’t gone back to teaching. It’s seems it’s time to make a decision. Read more

Comparison is the thief of joy // Being good enough

Comparison is the thief of joy

I apologise now that this is going to be a bit of a brain dump post – it’s been bubbling away in the back of mind for a while now and I think that writing about it might make me feel better and be able to move on from it…

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t use social media in some way or another (except perhaps my dad) and I am no exception. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media – I remember when I first got Facebook, over 10 years ago now, and I was so excited to find people I went to school with and see what they were up to (although I’d already been doing that a bit with Friends Reunited, remember that?), it also meant I could connect with people I’d worked with overseas, people I hadn’t spoken to for years. Of course I also became Facebook friends with people I knew in real life and saw regularly anyway too. Read more

I’m going to #BML16 with Ardo Breastpumps

You may have noticed me mention that I went away at the beginning of May to Blog On, a blogging conference in Manchester. I had a great time, mostly catching up with friends, as well as attending a few of the sessions too.

Well next weekend I’m heading to London for another blogging conference; Britmums Live (or #BML16 as it has been rebranded this year). I went to Britmums in 2014 and I really enjoyed it. At that point I’d only been blogging at Toby Goes Bananas for about 8 months and I was a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience. This time I’m older and wiser (ahem!) and I’m looking forward to meeting up with some old friends, and meeting some in person for the first time too.

This year I have been lucky enough to be sponsored to attend #BML16 by Ardo breastpumps. I reviewed an Ardo double electric pump when Gabe was first born and it was fab. It definitely helped me keep breastfeeding for longer. Although I’m no longer breastfeeding I still believe that Ardo have some great products, and their website also has lots of brilliant information and advice for breastfeeding mums.

Anyway, I thought I should probably join in the #BML16 linky and introduce myself.

Sarah (Toby Goes Bananas)

  • Is this my first blogging event? No, I went to Britmums Live in 2014 and Blog On MOSI last month.
  • I will be wearing…something comfy! Jeans probably, and a top that is clean and not covered in baby snot hopefully!
  • What I hope to gain from #BML16: A chance to catch up with friends and to be inspired to keep on blogging even when I feel like I just don’t have enough hours in the day.
  • My tips for a great conference: Choose your sessions wisely, and remember you don’t have to go to them all – spending time in the brand hub and chatting to other bloggers is just as worthwhile. Oh and stay to the end if you can!

If you see me next weekend please do come and say hi. And please accept my apologies in advance if I don’t know your name – I am rubbish at matching bloggers to their blogs!

tobygoesbananas-ardo

Blog On Ice Breaker

In just a couple of weeks I will be leaving Toby and Gabe in the capable hands of my lovely husband and heading down to Manchester for the Blog On blogging conference. I went to Britmums Live back in 2014 but I haven’t had chance to go to another blogging conference since so I’m very excited. And I am very grateful to Barry for taking on the unenviable task of looking after both boys on his own for two days!

Before I go I thought I would join in with The Great Big Blog On Ice Breaker Linky and share a bit about myself, and hopefully find out a bit about some of the other bloggers who will be attending. I’m really looking forward to meeting up with some of my blogging pals but it would be great to meet some new people too – so if you see me then please do come and say hi!

So, to the questions…

  1. Share a recent picture of you
    I’m usually the one behind the camera these days but this is one my husband took when we went for a walk in the woods near our house at the weekend. I think I look knackered but I reckon that’s just my face these days!
    Me looking tired in the woods
  2. If you had to describe yourself in three words…….
    Tired mother and teacher
  3. How long have you been blogging and what made you start?
    I have been blogging since 2009 but I started Toby Goes Bananas in 2013 when Toby was about three months old. I’d started reading lots of other parenting blogs during the many and long night feeds and thought I’d like to keep a record of Toby’s childhood. Since then I’ve had another baby; Gabriel who was born in August 2015.
  4. What was your favourite TV program as a child?
    Ooh, now that depends at what age. As a pre-schooler I loved King Rollo and Button Moon, when I was a bit older it was probably Byker Grove or maybe Neighbours – I’m definitely from the Jason and Kylie era!
  5. Something interesting you might not know about me is . . .
    I can tap dance, knit, play the ukulele, speak French and Spanish and say ‘there is a naked man following me everywhere with a butcher’s knife’ in Dutch!
  6. What is the weirdest food you have ever eaten?
    I don’t think I’ve eaten anything weird – I’m quite fussy about food, I don’t even like baked beans.
  7. What was your biggest fashion faux pas?
    Oh there are too many to mention – I grew up in the 80s and 90s! Not clothes, but I did have a straight bob with a permed fringe when I was about 10!
  8. What are you pet peeves?
    Bad driving, inconsiderate neighbours and vegetables that go off before their use by date.
  9. Who would be your 3 perfect dinner party guests (dead or alive) and why?
    Michael Mosely because I always really enjoy his documentaries and we’ve recently started following The Fast Diet that he advocates. Jojo Moyes because I love all her books and I think she would be interesting to talk to. And lastly Johnny Depp because, well, Johnny Depp.
  10. If they made a movie of your life, what would it be about and which actor would play the part of you?
    Hmm, my 20s and early 30s were pretty busy – I lived and worked in France for six years on and off, and I travelled to America on my own twice. I did spend quite a lot of it drunk though so I don’t know how good a narrator I would make! And I think Carey Mulligan would play me, but mostly because I covet her hair.
  11. If you could live in any sitcom, which one would it be?
    I’d have to say Friends. I was in sixth form when it started and I remember the buzz about it. And I probably know all the scripts off by heart the amount of times I’ve seen every episode since!
  12. Name a famous person you have met
    I’ve met Tim Minchin quite a few times, I even hung out with him backstage at one of his gigs once. And I met Fatima Whitbread in MacDonalds during the Barcelona Olympics too.
  13. Which social media platform best describes your personality and why?
    Probably Twitter – always busy and I’ve forgotten what everyone has said five minutes after they say it.
  14. What picture do you have on lock screen on your phone / computer?
    This one…
    Siblings February
  15. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
    About 20? Not including various dancing shoes. And how many do I wear regularly? Three!
  16. What period of time from the past would you most like to have lived?
    1950s – mostly because I love the clothes and those 1950s dresses really suit my body shape.
  17. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
    Oh this is hard. There are so many places I’d like to go… Australia and New Zealand are near the top of the list. I love America though – I’ve been three times (once to New York, once on a West Coast road trip on my own and most recently on an East Coast road trip for my honeymoon) but there is still so much of it I’d like to see. I’d love to go to South America too, especially now I can speak Spanish.
  18. What is your guilty pleasure?
    Chocolate and far too much of it.
  19. What is your favourite tipple?
    Rose wine or Southern Comfort and Coke although I don’t drink very much these days.
  20. If you had a magic lamp and a Genie, what would be your three wishes?
    I would wish that my boys grow up happy and healthy, for a cure for the common cold (then maybe I could help Gabe get rid of the one he’s had for nearly two months now) and lastly on a purely selfish note I would ask to be able to eat whatever I like without getting fat!

I’m really looking forward to meeting up with some of my blogging pals at Blog On but it would be great to meet some new people too – so if you see me then please do come and say hi!

Blogging Room 101

I was tagged by the lovely Hannah over at Budding Smiles to write about my blogging pet peeves; what would I put in a blogging Room 101?

Blogging Room 101

I don’t claim to be any kind of expert but I’ve been blogging in one form or another for seven years now and here at Toby Goes Bananas for two and a half years and I’ve read hundreds if not thousands of other blogs in that time so here’s a few things that annoy me when I see them on a blog, or being done by a blogger…

Poor readability

By that I mean anything in the blog design that make it hard to read the posts. The main culprits are; centred text; fancy fonts for main text; coloured text; and for me a column that is too wide makes it hard to read too. I’m also talking about really bad spelling, or using the wrong words in here too. I don’t mean the odd typo but if you insist on saying you brought a new coat instead of bought, and you don’t know the difference between there, their and they’re I will eventually stop reading your blog.

LOL

I write very much how I speak, so it’s not always grammatically correct, I start sentences with ‘and’ and ‘but’ and my punctuation can be a bit haphazard at times (I put far too many things in brackets for a start) but you will never find me writing LOL in a blog post (or anywhere else for that matter). It’s not just LOLs that rub me up the wrong way, ‘haha’ at the end of a sentence will do it too, as will emoticons – keep them for your Facebook wall please people!

Bad or small photographs

I know not every blogger has a DSLR, or any desire to be a photographer but if you are going to put photos on your blog then I really think they should be big and the best quality you can manage. I sometimes put the odd slightly dodgy iPhone photo up if it’s the only picture I have of a moment I really want to capture but when it’s a photo you’ve had time to plan then I really think you should be making that the best photo you can. [Having said this I seem to be having some issues with the quality of the photos on my blog at the moment – the originals are fine but I seem to be losing quality somewhere along the editing/publishing line and I really hope I can sort it out soon].

Awkward commenting

I’m really trying to comment on other blogs more these days, especially as I’m joining in a lot more linkies now and it’s really frustrating when I have to sign up to something, or fill in loads of details when I’m trying to comment. Or even worse if your blog tries to make me comment from my Facebook account. If you want comments you’ve got to make it easy for people. It’s worth checking how easy it is to comment from a mobile too. I do a lot of my blog reading on my phone and will only comment from there if you make it super easy for me.

Over promotion

I know we all want people to read our blogs and the only way to make that happen is to promote them but it drives me crazy when I see bloggers tweeting the same post over and over and over again. I’ve definitely unfollowed people for this particular crime – which is a shame really because it means I don’t get to see any of their other posts either.

Irrelevant sponsored posts

For some bloggers their blog is their main (or only) source of income and I get that. I don’t have a problem with sponsored posts, I’ve been known to do them myself on occasion. But I do think that sponsored content should be relevant to your blog and your readers.

Vlogs

OK, now this one is a bit of a personal problem I have and I know lots of people will disagree with me….but I just don’t really get vlogging. I guess it’s because I usually read blogs while I’m feeding Gabe, or waiting until he’s properly asleep before I can but him in bed, or while I’m watching TV in the evenings, and so I don’t want to to be watching a video when I could be reading. And I definitely don’t get the phenomenon that is the ‘haul’ vlog – I’m not the only one either!

Floating icons or pop ups

This kind of falls under over promotion too I guess. I appreciate people want their readers to sign up for email updates, or follow them on social media, or read another post before leaving the blog…. but things popping up all over the place will not encourage me to do any of those things. I assume they do work for some people otherwise why would anyone use them but they just really annoy me, especially if I’m reading on my phone. Oh and don’t get me started on those social media icons that follow you down the page!

I could probably go on but I think that’s enough moaning for today! Oh and please don’t take offence if you do any of these things….remember ‘all opinions are my own’ 😉  (and even I break my own rules sometimes!)

I’m tagging the following bloggers to share what they would put in their Blogging Room 101:

Clare at Mumsy Midwife

Georgina at Spread a little luck

Sarah at The Parenting Trials

Chantele at Two Hearts One Roof

Beth at Twinderelmo